Energy students edge closer to career goals, thanks to Prosser scholarships

23 June 2020

The Jennifer and Ian Prosser Scholarship, which assists first-year ANU Master of Energy Change students, has this year been awarded to two people – Oscar Starmer and Tom Atkins.

Worth $5,000 each, the scholarships are generously provided by the Prossers as they value higher education, an interdisciplinary approach to energy change and sustainability, and the need to support regional and rural students of Australia.

Jennifer and Ian Prosser said that whatever we aspire to, our home planet is critical to our survival, and we must make urgent changes to avoid climate disaster, especially in our energy use.

“An integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to transition away from fossil fuels must happen quickly,” they said in a statement.

“It is vital that young Australians from different disciplines bring together their knowledge and enquiring minds to focus on innovative solutions.

“We support the ANU Master of Energy Change to give bright young people the opportunity to understand the depths of the problems we are facing, and deal with some of the challenges, taking new ideas and approaches back to their own working environments.”

Both 2020 scholarship recipients say they plan to incorporate what they’re learning at ANU into their current and future roles.

Oscar hails from the southern NSW coastal town of Moruya, while Tom is from Dungog, in the state’s Hunter Valley region.

Both are studying under researchers in the interdisciplinary ANU Energy Change Institute because they want to gain new skills with which to confront some of the challenges facing Australia’s energy transition.

“I’m incredibly excited to receive the scholarship,” Oscar said.

“It gives me a great chance to build momentum in my first year of the Master’s program.”

Oscar decided to study the ANU Master of Energy Change because he wanted to gain a better understanding of renewable energy and use the electrification of transport and industry to help in the fight against climate change.

Oscar is the Board Secretary of SolarShare Canberra, a community-based solar energy project, and has a few ideas for what he might do after graduating.

These include working as a policymaker helping a government to enact zero emissions legislation, or working on large-scale renewable energy project such as a wind farm.

Tom Atkins works with ACT gas and electricity distributor Evo Energy, and has a background in environmental management in sectors including waste water and electricity distribution.

He chose to start postgraduate study to help provide practical solutions to two challenges: that most of Australia’s domestic emissions created in electricity generation, distribution and transmission; and the grid instability caused by increasing penetration of renewable energy sources.

“It is this ability to influence network design and the future state that has encouraged me to undertaken this post-graduate study to challenge existing perceptions in my industry and further develop my skills to engage in this debate,” he said.

“Engaging in this degree will allow me to be well informed on transition options, emerging technologies, and the collective policies that are driving our direction domestically and internationally.”